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News, January 2022
President Tokayev Says Unrest Was Coup Attempt, Putin Claims Victory in Defending Kazakhstan
January 10, 2022
Kazakh President Declares January 10 as National Day of Mourning
The Astana Times, 9 JANUARY 2022
January 10 has been declared the National Day of Mourning for those who lost their lives in massive unrest that swept across Kazakhstan.
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed the decree on Jan. 8, reported his press office.
The meeting of the operational headquarters at Akorda on Jan. 9. Photo credit: Akorda.
On Jan. 8 and Jan. 9, Tokayev met with the country’s Prosecutor General, Chair of the National Security Committee, acting ministers of internal affairs and defense. He told them to take under control of the restoration of administrative, social buildings, and communal facilities in Almaty and other regions that were damaged under attacks from armed groups that the government said were terrorists with foreign training.
Some troops of the Kazakh law enforcement agencies were redeployed from Nur-Sultan to Almaty to take part in the anti-terrorist operation due to the arrival of the contingents of the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) collective peacekeeping forces to the capital.
Tokayev also instructed his government to ensure the coordinated and efficient work of the agencies involved and stabilize the situation in the interests of people.
“The President clearly explained the situation. Now it’s entering a stabilizing phase. All state institutions have been released and the anti-terrorist operation is in its final stage. The CSTO collective peacekeeping forces have a supportive mission here,” said Deputy Director of the Kazakh Institute of Strategic Studies (KazISS) Sanat Kushkumbayev in an interview to Kazinform news agency.
The expert reiterated that the CSTO forces are not directly involved in the anti-terrorist operation but help to maintain public order and security. Their mission is limited in scope and scale. They will return to their countries once the active phase of the anti-terrorist operation is completed.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs reports that the protestors destroyed more than a hundred large trade stores and banks, destroyed more than 400 vehicles, including 346 cars of the internal affairs bodies in Almaty. Photo credit: Tengrinews.
As of Jan. 9, 1,300 law enforcement officials and internal affairs officers were injured during the mass unrest in Almaty, according to Acting Minister of Internal Affairs Yerlan Turgumbayev. At least 5,800 people were detained, among them a large number of foreign nationals.
Turgumbayev said that people who gathered for mass protests in Almaty did not put forward any demands and did not negotiate with the police. According to him, some 20,000 people changed into uniforms of law enforcement officers and opened fire on security officials and people. The ministry has no reports about victims among civilians.
The situation in the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan is stable, said the head of the city’s Police Department Yerzhan Sadenov. There are checkpoints installed around the city checking people entering the city.
The President instructed the government to create a special commission on repairing the damage from the unrest in certain regions.
Kazakhstan declared a state of emergency to ensure public safety and protect the rights and freedoms of people in the country from Jan. 5 to Jan. 19 after the fuel protests were held nationwide.
The state of emergency includes a curfew from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., temporary restrictions on movement, and a ban on mass gatherings.
The protests broke out on Jan. 3 in Western Kazakhstan’s Mangystau Oblast after a double spike in price for liquid petroleum gas, widely used in the region, to 120 tenge ($0.27) per liter. People demanded the restoration of the price cap to 50 tenge ($0.12) – a demand which the government fulfilled on Tuesday evening. Protests then quickly spread to other cities including Almaty, Nur-Sultan, Shymkent, Aktobe, and Atyrau.
The internet remains shut down across the country.
“Access to the internet remains limited because terrorist groups use it for their communication, coordination, and plan of actions,” said Kazakh Minister of Digitial Development, Innovation, and Aerospace Industry Bagdat Musin.
People can now access banking apps and some news websites as well as the Akorda website without the internet.
The airport in the capital continues its work. But the airport in Almaty, which was damaged by the terrorists, suspended its work until further notice. It was expected to resume its work today.
Kazakhstan unrest was coup attempt, says president
BBC, January 10, 2022
Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has described deadly violence last week as an attempted coup d'etat.
He told leaders of a military alliance of ex-Soviet states the action had been co-ordinated by a "single centre", but did not name those responsible.
President Putin said Kazakhstan had been targeted by international terrorism, but provided no evidence for this claim.
He added that Russia would never allow revolutions in the region.
Troops from Russia and other countries are currently in Kazakhstan to restore order.
The demonstrations, triggered by a rise in fuel prices, turned into the worst unrest the country has seen in its 30 years of independence. Dozens of people are reported to have died, including 16 members of the security forces.
The protests started on 2 January and grew to reflect discontent at the government and former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who led Kazakhstan for three decades and is still thought to retain significant influence.
Correspondents say the recent violence may be linked to a power struggle within the ruling elite.
A week after violence erupted, the authorities say the situation has now stabilised, with troops continuing "clean-up" operations and guarding strategic facilities.
A state of emergency and a nationwide curfew remain in place. Almost 8,000 people have been detained throughout the country, the Interior Ministry said on Monday.
The security talks between leaders of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) military alliance came as Kazakhstan began an official day of mourning to commemorate those killed in the unrest.
"Armed militants who were waiting in the wings joined the protests. The main goal was obvious: the undermining of the constitutional order, the destruction of government institutions and the seizure of power. It was an attempted coup d'etat," Mr Tokayev said.
He said protesters had targeted Kazakhstan's biggest city, Almaty, with a view to seizing the country's southern regions and the capital, Nur-Sultan. A hunt for "terrorists" was continuing and Kazakhstan would soon give proof of what had happened to the international community, he added.
Mr Putin said he believed some involved in the violence in recent days had been trained in foreign countries, without giving evidence.
"Well organised and clearly managed groups of militants were used, about which President Tokayev just spoke, including those who obviously underwent training in terrorist camps abroad," Mr Putin told other leaders on the video conference.
"Events in Kazakhstan are not the first nor the last attempt to meddle into our internal affairs from abroad.
"Measures taken by CSTO show that we will not allow a destabilised situation in the region and we will not let them carry out so-called colour revolutions."
Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken questioned Kazakhstan's decision to seek Russian military help, as the first of about 2,030 Russian-led troops arrived in the country. Officials in Moscow gave assurances their presence was temporary.
Mr Blinken urged the Kazakh authorities to respect the rights of protesters while maintaining law and order.
Russia has long accused the West of encouraging uprisings in its back yard - so-called "colour revolutions" - that have brought down governments in former Soviet states such as Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.
Events in Kazakhstan come at a time when tensions are high over tens of thousands of Russian troops massed on the border with Ukraine, prompting fears of an invasion.
Putin claims victory in defending Kazakhstan from revolt
By Tamara Vaal
Reuters, January 10, 2022
Putin says alliance blocked 'terrorists, criminals, looters' Almaty shops reopen, public transport restarts Street debris cleared, Internet resumes for a few hours Tokayev denounces 'attempted coup d'etat'
NUR-SULTAN, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory on Monday in defending Kazakhstan from what he described as a foreign-backed terrorist uprising, and promised leaders of other ex-Soviet states that a Moscow-led alliance would protect them too.
Kazakhstan's biggest city Almaty returned to near-normal on Monday after nearly a week of unrest, by far the worst violence in the 30-year independent history of what had been the most stable former Soviet state in Central Asia.
Cleaners were removing debris from streets still littered with burnt-out cars. Most shops reopened, public transport and regular traffic returned, and the internet was switched back on for several hours in the city, for the first time since last Wednesday.
The square near the mayor's office, burnt out during the uprising, was firmly held by the security forces and closed to the public. Police searched cars at checkpoints.
Putin sent paratroopers last week to protect strategic facilities after anti-government protesters ransacked and torched public buildings. Dozens of people are believed to have been killed in clashes between security forces and demonstrators in cities across the country.
Russia's swift deployment demonstrated the Kremlin's readiness to use force to safeguard its influence in the ex-Soviet Union, at a time when Moscow is also in a standoff with the West over thousands of troops massed near Ukraine.
Putin told a virtual summit of the CSTO military alliance of ex-Soviet states that the body had managed to "prevent the undermining of the foundations of the state, the complete degradation of the internal situation in Kazakhstan, and block terrorists, criminals, looters and other criminal elements."
"Of course, we understand the events in Kazakhstan are not the first and far from the last attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of our states from the outside," he said. "The measures taken by the CSTO have clearly shown we will not allow the situation to be rocked at home."
Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev told the summit his country had weathered "an attempted coup d'etat".
"Under the guise of spontaneous protests, a wave of unrest broke out," he said. "It became clear that the main goal was to undermine the constitutional order and to seize power."
A candle and flowers are placed outside the Kazakh Embassy to commemorate those killed during the recent mass protests in Kazakhstan, in Moscow, Russia January 10, 2022. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina
Russia and Kazakhstan have both portrayed the unrest as a foreign-backed insurrection, although they have not said who they blame for organising it.
Russia has long blamed the West for fomenting so-called "colour revolutions" -- uprisings that have toppled governments in countries such as Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia -- and promoted its own role helping to suppress them. It backed the leader of Belarus in crushing demonstrations in 2020.
The uprising in Kazkahstan began as protests against a New Year's Day fuel price hike quickly spread last week into nationwide demonstrations against the government and ex-leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, 81. The longest-serving ruler of a former Soviet state, he handed the presidency to Tokayev three years ago but was widely believed to have kept the reins of power.
"The main blow was directed against (the city of) Almaty. The fall of this city would have paved the way for a takeover of the densely populated south and then the whole country," Tokayev said. "Then they planned to seize the capital."
Kazakhstan has been ruled firmly and with little organised political opposition since independence, but was seen for decades as far less volatile and repressive than its Central Asian neighbours. The violence came as a shock to Almaty residents, who shared a poem online lamenting how the "garden city" had been "raped, seized, trampled and torched".
Tokayev said a large-scale counter-terrorism operation would soon end, along with a CSTO mission that he said numbered 2,030 troops and 250 pieces of military hardware.
The Kazakh foreign ministry said in a statement the attackers included "individuals who have military combat zone experience in the ranks of radical Islamist groups" without providing further details.
The National Security Committee, successor to the Soviet-era KGB, said the situation had stabilised and that security forces had restored control.
Last week Tokayev sacked the head of the committee, Karim Massimov, and his top deputy, Nazarbayev's nephew. Masimov has since been detained on suspicion of treason. Nazarbayev himself has not been heard from, and was stripped of a security post he had retained after giving up the presidency.
Monday was declared a day of mourning for those killed in the unrest. Russian and state media, citing a government social media post, have reported that 164 people had been killed. Health and police authorities have not confirmed that figure, and the original social media post has been deleted.
A former Kazakh prime minister, Akezhan Kazhegeldin, told Reuters on Sunday that Tokayev must move fast to consolidate his grip after appearing to break with Nazarbayev.
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